"Hellraiser: Deader" and "Hellraiser: Hellworld"
DVD Reviews
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)

    Kari Wuhrer as AMY KLEIN
    Paul Rhys as WINTER
    Simon Kunz as CHARLES
    Doug Bradley as PINHEAD

    MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Lance Henriksen as HOST
    Katheryn Winnick as CHELSEA
    Christopher Jacot as JAKE
    Doug Bradley as PINHEAD

    Rated R
    Studio: Dimension
    Directed by: Rick Bota

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Dimension Films, the genre arm of Miramax, doesn’t just produce major theatrical horror and sci-fi releases. They also have their hands deeply into the direct-to-DVD market. They have cornered some of the more recently popular franchises and are now cranking out multiple titles a year.

One of the best series they are working on today is the sequels to the “Hellraiser” films. Keep in mind that these movies are a far cry from Clive Barker’s original thriller from the mid-1980s. After a pretty solid sequel and then a string of crap, the “Hellraiser” films seemed to be doomed. After all, after one of the films was handed an Allan Smithee directing credit, you knew things were getting bad.

However, I have to hand it to director Rick Bota. He’s taken a run-into-the-ground franchise and breathed some life into it under the wing of Dimension Films. These new “Hellraiser” films aren’t nearly as good as the original, but they sure beat the pants off of some of the direct-to-DVD horror movies that line the shelves of the local video store.

Bota’s first crack at the “Hellraiser” saga was “Hellseeker” three years ago. Now he’s adding two new films under his belt. The first is subtitled “Deader” and stars Kari Wuhrer of “Sliders” fame as an investigative reporter tracking down a death cult in Romania. The script was originally not a “Hellraiser” film, so it was forced into the mythology a bit. Consequently, Doug Bradley’s iconic character of Pinhead is only in the film for a few scenes.

To his credit, Bota is still able to make the film work, almost outside of the “Hellraiser” genre. In some ways, this film is a calling card for the Romanian film industry, showcasing some pretty good actors, stunt people and make-up artists. Romania is becoming a haven for low-budget filmmaking, and Bota knows how to exploit that resource.

He continues to use his team wisely in “Hellraiser: Hellworld.” Unlike “Deader,” this does not take place in Romania, although it is filmed there. With a story that wraps itself in the “Hellraiser” mythology, “Hellworld” plugs the franchise holes from its previous film.

“Hellworld” follows a group of college-age friends after the death of their buddy. He apparently killed himself as a result of an online Hellraiser game that he took too seriously. Several years after his death, the friends reunite at a Hellraiser party thrown by a mysterious Host (Lance Henriksen). Once they join the party, they find themselves pawns in a game of debauchery, torture and murder.

There’s a lot less story to “Hellworld,” although it does deliver in the sordid elements you’d want from a horror film - sex, violence and nudity. It deteriorates into teenage slasher movie at one point, but having Lance Henriksen and Doug Bradley in the cast makes things work a little better than most slasher films.

Both “Deader” and “Hellworld” have some decent special features. “Deader” comes out on top with two commentaries, multiple behind-the-scenes featureettes and a hilarious gag reel in which you can see Doug Bradley blowing lines in full Pinhead makeup. “Hellworld” has a behind-the-scenes featurette as well as a feature commentary by Bota and his crew.

The new “Hellraiser” films aren’t perfect, but at least they’re not totally decimating a beloved franchise as the new “Crow” films are.

Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French and Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.

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